For the first time in the Middle East, Iranian researchers have succeeded in transplanting pancreatic islet cells to diabetics, making them free from insulin injection.
Latest figures have pointed out the high prevalence of diabetes in Iran. The topic, therefore, is considered as a national health priority.
“During the past 50 years, a great revolution has been noted in the treatment of diabetes. New types of drugs and insulin have reported promising results in controlling the crippling disease, neither of them, however, have succeeded in completely curing the sufferers,” said Baqer Larijani, the head of the researcher team and the dean of Tehran University of Medical Sciences.
He went on to say that Iranian scientists have recently performed many innovations, including transplanting stem cells, to treat diabetic patients. Transplanting the pancreatic cells responsible for producing insulin is their latest advance.
In the novel technique, pancreatic cells were extracted from a brain dead individual and thereafter were transplanted to a diabetic after they were purified through a complex technique.
“After doing years of research on animal samples, we have performed the operation for the first time in our country,” said Larijani, stressing that Iran is the first country in the region that has done so.
According to statistics, a limited number of such surgeries have been previously conducted in Japan. Korean scientists have also performed two such operations.
Larijani stressed that the technique is not effective in all the type 1 diabetic patients.
“The treatment is not only complicated but also pricey as patients need immunomedulatory medications for a long time after the transplantation. As a result, the treatment will not be performed on a regular basis for the time being,” said Larijani, adding that Iranian scientists hope they would develop an effective and less pricey method in the near future.